Sports Betting: Straight Bets
By Loot, Sports Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
The straight bet is the bread-and-butter of any serious sports bettor--or at least it should be. It’s the easiest bet to make and the simplest to explain. There will be two choices. It can either be two teams or two fighters. A straight bet, simply put, is when you pick one of the two sides. Depending on the sport, you will either be asking for one side to win or “cover the spread.”
In baseball, boxing, and MMA straight betting, you just need your pick to win. It doesn’t matter by how many or how conclusively--they just need to win. In these sports, you will be betting on the moneyline, which are simply odds. Depending on the perceived strength of the side you choose, it will either be a favorite or an underdog.
In football and basketball, we are betting against the spread. In these types of bets, who wins isn’t the ultimate determinator of whether or not you win the bet. It’s all about the spread. In straight bets against the spread, each side yields the same potential return. Since teams are rarely evenly-matched, the spread is used to make both sides relatively even.
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Just to summarize--there are two types of straight bets. In baseball, boxing, and MMA--the money line is used. In basketball and football, we are betting against the spread. Let’s break down the two options.
A straight bet on sports like baseball, boxing, and MMA takes place on the money line, which is an expression of odds. One team will be the favorite and one will be the underdog. Here is a quick example:
Chicago Cubs (+180) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (-200)
In the above example, you see two teams with two sets of odds, expressed in the form of the money line. You see one team’s odds has a (+) sign, while the other has a (-) sign.
Here is a good piece of info to carry with you forever on your journey down the road of sports-betting: the plus-sign indicates an underdog, while a minus-sign indicates a favorite. Lock it in.
A minus sign means that is how much you have to bet to win $100.
A plus sign means that’s how much you win if you bet $100.
Therefore, a $100 bet on the Cubs would earn you $180 in winnings if they win the game. So you bet $100 and win $180, for a total return of $280. A minus-sign (favorite) means you have to bet that amount to win $100. So if you bet $200 on the Cardinals and they win, you win $100. Naturally, you would get your bet amount back, meaning you collect a total of $300.
The money line is meant to express odds revolving around the abstract number of $100. That’s just a round number that everyone can understand. By no means must you bet $100. It’s just a guideline to make the odds easy to fathom. You can essentially bet any amount and the odds would break down proportionally exactly the same as if you bet $100.
When betting against the spread, it’s a little different. Both sides of the bet pay the same. The industry standard is -110, meaning you have to bet $110 for every $100 you hope to win. But you can, and should, look for discounted lines against the spread. With a little work, you can find a -105 line, meaning you only have to put up $105 to win $100, which can add up over time to big savings.
In these bets, we have to beat the spread. Here is an example of a straight bet against the spread, which governs betting in basketball and football.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+10.5) vs. New England Patriots (-10.5)
Just like in money line betting, a plus-sign indicates an underdog, while the minus-sign indicates a favorite. In the above example, Jacksonville is a 10.5-point underdog, with New England being a 10.5-point favorite. For a straight bet on Jacksonville to be a winner, they can either win the game outright or lose the game by under 11 points. A winning wager on the Patriots will only result if the Patriots win by at least 11 points.
These things might seem confusing to a beginner. It’s perhaps a little bit foreign at first, but rest assured, straight-betting sports is pretty simple. Within a few minutes of pondering it, you will have this down-pat and be ready to start making wagers.